By Jan Carlo Anolin
Honorio Banario is riding on Team Lakay’s successful start in 2020 and seeks to climb back up the ranks of the ONE Championship featherweight division.
The 30-year-old Banario faces Thai foe Shannon Wiratchai in ONE: King of the Jungle in a closed-door event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on February 28, making his first comeback in the featherweight bout.
“Here [in featherweight,] I am faster, more explosive, and the fans will surely enjoy an exciting match between two hungry veterans looking to make a statement to start the year,” Banario said.
The Team Lakay veteran seeks to bounce back from three straight losses in the lightweight division with the latest defeat coming from Japanese grappler Shinya Aoki via first round technical submission in ONE: Century II last October.
“Even before my last bout, I wanted to move to featherweight. However, I couldn’t pass upthe chance to compete against a legend like Shinya,” Banario said, stressing that he felt ‘heavier’ and had to endure injuries even at peak condition in the lightweight division.
The 31-year-old Wiratchai, meanwhile, aims to end his three-game skid and gain his first win since 2018 against Rahul K. Rahu of India.
Banario admitted that he wasn’t at “100 percent” during his lightweight run, adding that moving down will be good for his body – physically and mentally.
As the title hunt begins, the Baguio native fighter believes the decision will bring out the best in him. “I can’t relax in my training,” he said.
Banario decided to move a weight higher in 2016 after suffering five straight losses, from 2013 to 2015, in featherweight class.
Going up, the inaugural ONE featherweight world champion showed a different side of him and emerged victorious five consecutive times in the lightweight bout, from his 2016 debut until 2018.
“When I first competed at lightweight, I felt good because I was able to bring my power and speed up there and still feel light,” Banario said. “My reaction time is a bit later than I want. It’s a huge factor in my decision to move down.
“I just hope to win this one and keep on winning this year. I’m returning to my original weight division, and I want to continue to work my way back to the top.”